Here's a first: I'm writing this blog from beneath one of those huge 1950s-looking hair dryers at a salon as my highlights cure. Wow, that's 2 confessions in one! There's a reason I'm writing on the run: inspiration hit! In talking to my stylist just now --he shall remain nameless, so he can speak freely-- I learned several tips and tricks that can keep you safe at a salon.
Cheap isn't always a bargain. If you go dirt cheap on beauty treatments --especially those involving chemicals-- you could be putting your health at risk. Salons that charge well below market rate for the "same" service may not be using the same, safe, quality chemical products to perform that service. Another caution: salons that offer lots of "Daily deal" type coupons, may get overwhelmed and have inexperienced people perform the services in order to get through the rush.
Experience counts. We've all been aught to ask surgeons "how many of these operations have you done," before letting them cut us open. It's a good idea to ask the same question of beauty professionals, After all, many of them perform procedures that could damage your skin, your eyes, your scalp or your hair.
Look for sanitizer containers. I'm always stunned when I see a hairdresser pull combs and brushes out of a drawer --or their pocket-- rather than from a proper container filled with Barbicide, or an equivalent disinfecting solution. This blue-green formula is what's standing between you and the next customer's "cooties." Seriously.
Beware high heat. Some salon-quality flat irons and blow dryers can get as hot a 450 degrees! But most hair doesn't need anything near that hot. So make sure your stylist spend enough time with you that they don't need to dial up the heat to the max.
Speak up about sensitivities If you know you are sensitive to chemicals and your stylist is going to try a new product, insist on a patch test. Manufacturer labeling typically recommends a patch test, but, in reality, few salons perform them, unless requested.
Bottom line: if something doesn't seem right, don't be afraid to speak up --or GET up and leave. Some salons cultivate an aura of exclusivity and, frankly, snobbishness, that can be hard to overcome, but it's not just your hair, but your health, that is at stake.